Housing and Planning — [Sir Charles Walker in the Chair]

Part of the debate – in Westminster Hall at 3:24 pm on 3rd March 2020.

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Photo of James Daly James Daly Conservative, Bury North 3:24 pm, 3rd March 2020

I am a Greater Manchester MP, so the proposed strategic housing plan for my area for the next 20 years is the Greater Manchester spatial framework. The planning system has created a scenario predicated on the building of three, four and five-bedroom houses on the green belt. That cannot be right. There is no requirement within the Greater Manchester spatial framework to provide affordable housing—certainly not truly affordable housing. The present definition of affordable housing means that most of the people in my constituency cannot afford an affordable house. We need to amend that and prioritise development. We need to incentivise development on brownfield sites within boroughs, and within plans.

We must look at how the population projections in particular are calculated. The GMSF is built on population projections from 2014 figures from the Office for National Statistics. If the housing numbers were based on the most recent figures, which are the 2018 figures, that would mean that in a seat such as mine, and in the Metropolitan Borough of Bury, no green belt would have to be built on. The planning system must be fair. It must produce plans based on the most accurate and recent information. I urge the Minister to consider insisting that local authorities use the most recent figures rather than 2014 figures, and prioritise truly affordable housing. We cannot have a situation where developers get to take the easy way out, building houses at £400,000 and £500,000, which cater to only a small number of people in my constituency.

My last point echoes what some of my hon. Friends have said. Within the Greater Manchester spatial framework, new schools, roads and doctors’ surgeries are required. At the moment they are merely words on a piece of paper. There is no requirement within the document. Planning officers tell me that they will be built. There is no guarantee that they will be built, but I believe there is an absolute guarantee that the green belt will be built over by three, four and five-bedroom houses. We must find a way to get cast-iron guarantees, before planning permission is granted, that infrastructure will be put in place to support the thousands of extra houses that are proposed—certainly in my area.